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When U.S. President Thomas Winston proposes to legalize narcotics and tax and regulate them to death, someone kidnaps the young daughter of the president's personal physician, and all the doctor can do to get her back is to kill the president. 100,000 first printing.
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Cynically formulaic plot-by-numbers from Wilson, a competent, derivative suspense factory best known for his Nazi-vampire series, beginning with The Keep (1981). Taking a break from his mostly well-received medical thrillers (Implant, 1995, etc.), Wilson tries his hand at Washington intrigue with a tale so tiresomely unoriginal that not even the bad guy's nifty Internet techno-tricks can pique the reader's interest. Dr. John VanDuyne is the personal physician of liberal-leaning President Thomas Winston. Winston gives a televised speech, announcing that America has lost the war on drugs and that he's going to legalize and tax illicit drugs to prop up his administration's sagging budget. Soon after, VanDuyne gets an e- mail message informing him that his little daughter has been abducted. To get Katie back, he's told, he must inject Winston with an antibiotic having potentially lethal side effects, thus incapacitating, if not killing, him. It seems there's an international conference on illicit drugs coming up, and Carlos Salinas, a wily Colombian druglord who doesn't want his cartel's $50 billion business to disappear, thinks that only a scheme this stupid will prevent Winston from unleashing his awesome charismatic presence at the conference and making the dealers' global business evaporate. The author goes for a blood-is-thicker-than-money conceit as one of the kidnappers, a ditsy pill-popping Jersey woman named Poppy Mulliner, finds her maternal urges awakened by Katie. Poppy snatches the child from her gang and flees to a shack in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, not far from where Poppy was born. Confident that her relatives will protect her from her vengeful associates, as well as from Dr. VanDuyne, VanDuyne's klutzy ex- wife, bickering Secret Service and FBI agents, and, finally, a DEA mole, Poppy makes a stand for family values in a dark and stormy climax. Realistic techno and medical detail won't budge a novel mired with plot clich‚s and stale characters. (Radio satellite tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
What would actually happen if the president decriminalized drugs? The drug lords certainly would not let a tax-free, $50 billion annual income disappear without a struggle, would they? In Wilson's exciting yarn, John VanDuyne, the president's personal physician and longtime friend, is put in an excruciating position when his patient broaches drug legalization: if he wants to get his kidnapped daughter, Katie, back, VanDuyne must give the president a potentially fatal drug. With confederates in high government places and an assistant given to sending gruesome "persuaders" from kidnapped victims to keep their family members and friends on mission, drug boss Carlos Salinas foresees no problems for his scheme to stay in business. Problems do, of course, arise in the White House and elsewhere. High-tech electronics, the kidnappers' failure to discover beforehand that Katie needs daily medication for epilepsy, and VanDuyne's somewhat insane ex-wife are just some of them. The concluding, brilliantly conceived chase in the New Jersey pine barrens should leave many readers exhausted, happily. William Beatty
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